The original Gran Turismo captured the imaginations of automotive enthusiasts and was hailed as “The Real Driving Simulator.” Twenty-five years later, the franchise returns with Gran Turismo 7, which delivers on its core concepts.
New features include Music Replay, which automatically cuts and pans replays to match the music. Additionally, a new mode called Music Rally lets players experience an exhilarating driving feeling backed by their favorite tunes.
Whether you’re slamming a souped-up entry-level Japanese sports car around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya or cruising through the streets of Tokyo in a Ferrari F430, Gran Turismo 7 delivers on its promise to make cars feel and look like real life. This is one of the most impressive racing simulators ever to hit a console.
Unfortunately, the game also has a few major flaws that keep it from being the perfect racing experience. The stiff controls can be intimidating at first, and the fact that you cannot fully customize the game’s physics settings makes the whole experience less immersive than it should be.
Another problem is the game’s weird decision to force you to start each race from the back of the field, even if you’ve already won several races in the same session. This is a bit of an annoyance, especially since it reduces the amount of time you can spend in the best cars.
Other than that, GT7 is a joy to play. The games’ graphics are gorgeous, even with ray-tracing disabled. The car bodies and track markings are photorealistic, and the lighting is stunning. You can also switch between three different camera modes, from a fixed third-person perspective to the more traditional racing view. Haptics are well-implemented, with every bump in the road and the slap of your steering wheel being registered by the controller.
In the graphics department, Gran Turismo has never looked better. It utilizes a silky smooth 60fps frame rate on PS5 and features next-gen ray-tracing technology that showcases the way light reflects off of cars in an immersive and lifelike manner.
Polyphony Digital has continued to build on this strong rendering pipeline with even sharper reflections, immaculately detailed vehicles, a dynamic day and night weather system, and an extensive library of cars from every automotive manufacturer. In addition, games like jigsaw puzzles boast a new implementation of motion blur that is now applied on a per-pixel basis rather than a per-object approach like GT Sport.
It also includes a full suite of camera settings and the ability to adjust things like color balance, contrast, saturation, and more to create the perfect look. However, it does lack the ability to adjust lens distortion which is a shame since it can have an impact on the look of some cars.
Regardless, the game looks stunning and you won’t find a more realistic racing simulator on PlayStation 5. Unfortunately, the experience is soured by a series of ugly microtransactions that use some of the worst tactics the video game industry has to offer. This is especially true if you want to acquire all of the game’s cars, which will likely be an expensive undertaking unless you wait for a sale.
There is a certain intangible feel to the Gran Turismo series of games that makes them uniquely fun. Whether it’s blasting your first souped-up entry-level Japanese sports car around Tokyo or slamming an exhilarating Italian supercar on the apex of a tight corner, the games create a sense of pleasure and joy in driving that is difficult to replicate.
GT7 does a great job of recapturing that magic, even if it occasionally stumbles into some traps that other racing sims seem to have avoided. The game’s physics communicate the difference in performance between road cars and track machines very effectively, and the vibration feedback on the DualSense controller adds an extra layer of immersion that really enhances the experience.
The soundtrack is also outstanding, with a mix of licensed tunes and original music from world-renowned artists. The selections are chosen to be a perfect fit with the thrums and roars of the vehicles, and it’s easy to get absorbed in the music as you drive along.
The new Music Rally mode is a welcome addition, adding another element of variety and gameplay to the game. It changes up the classic Time Trial format of seeing how long you can last before a large countdown runs out by using a beat-sync system that generates replays automatically to match the rhythm of each song. The song selections are also a lot more diverse than in past games, with Bring Me The Horizon’s “Moon Over the Castle” being an excellent choice for this mode.
While Gran Turismo 7 won’t be for everyone, if you do vibe with this series and enjoy motorsport, there’s an enjoyment here that isn’t replicated in many other racing games. From blasting your first souped-up entry-level Japanese sports car around the streets of Tokyo to slamming a Ferrari F430 around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, there’s an undeniable joy in good, clean motorsport that can be found here that is hard to replicate in any other game.
The physics feel right, too. They communicate the difference in performance of the cars very well, and handling a fast road car with high downforce feels much more natural and rewarding than something slower and less responsive. It also helps that the game supports two-player split screen, which is something I’m glad to see games continuing to support.
Unfortunately, there’s a bit of an issue with online multiplayer in Gran Turismo 7. The World Map is where you can enter the lobby and search for or join lobbies to play in, and it’s here that I ran into one of the most irritating problems I’ve encountered in any game this year. It requires a constant internet connection, and while Kazunori Yamauchi says this is to prevent cheating by modifying game saves, it does mean that the lobby can feel empty. Fortunately, the team has announced several updates to address some of these issues.